HorrorScope Halloween: Doom – 23 Mods For Your Circle Of Hell
Gameplay Mods – A New Flavor Of Doom
The core moment-to-moment gameplay of Doom is almost uniquely enduring. With the addition of Doom 2′s new enemy types and the ever-satisfying Super Shotgun, the formula was complete. Still, it’s been almost twenty years now – maybe you’re ready for something different? Here are some of the best recent gameplay mods, each one completely re-imagining the game while still being compatible with almost any level you can throw at it.
Of all the mods here, this is the one that you’re most likely to have heard of already. Shockingly popular and well publicized, the final, 19th version of this long-running mod was released just today. If you’re old enough to remember when Doom came out, you’ll probably recall the controversy surrounding it. Parents aghast at the ultraviolence, flanked by politicians declaring it to be far too realistic to be safely consumed by children or adults alike. In reality, Doom was never that bad, and so the game that they were railing against never really existed. Until now.
Based on the Doom comic (which transformed the protagonist into a screeching slap-happy lunatic), Brutal Doom is the game that your parents warned you about. Hyper-graphic gore, bonuses for headshots, finishing moves straight out of Mortal Kombat and all the ludicrous gibs you can eat, assuming you scrape them off the walls and ceiling. You can even punch the larger demons in the nuts and taunt them with a raised middle finger, sending them into a murderous rage-state.
Come for the gore and manic misbehavior, stay for the complete redesign of the core gameplay. Brutal Doom makes things faster, punchier and more deadly. Enemies move quicker, hit harder and are generally more reactive, and your weaponry is cranked up a couple notches to compensate. If the classic Doom gameplay feels a little too sedate for you, this might be just what you’re looking for. The revised gameplay does come at a price, though; while the mod is compatible with almost all level sets, the ones that already push Doom’s gameplay balance to their limit may be rendered almost impossible to beat. Mix your mods responsibly, kids.
Æons Of Death
Depending on who you ask, this is either one of the best or worst Doom mods released in recent years. Whichever side of the divide you fall on, it’s a spectacular jumble, mashing up almost every weapon from every notable FPS of the past two decades. Using Duke Nukem 3D’s freeze-gun on Combine soldiers from Half-Life 2? Check. Unleashing the power of Daikatana’s arsenal on monsters from Heretic? Yep. Bulletstorm’s Boneduster shotgun Vs the hollering horde of Redneck Rampage? You got it. Doing all that at the same time? Absolutely.
It’s an unholy mess for sure, but an enjoyable one. Compatible with almost every level pack, it randomly replaces weapons, enemies and powerups with roughly power-balanced equivalents from across time, space and the face of gaming as we know it. The result is almost completely unpredictable, and highly replayable; the seed number it uses to pick what’s spawned is keyed to difficulty, so changing the setting will give you the same map, but with all new guns, gadgets and monsters. Just don’t expect balance or coherence.
Some concepts are just doomed to failure – ambitious, pipe-dream hybrids too beautiful to exist. A high-speed blend of Doom, Halo and Call of Duty? It’s impossible. Right? Project MSX is here to prove everyone very, very wrong. While technically still in Beta, this gameplay overhaul changes any Doom map-pack into a high-tech tactical rampage. You might have a fancy suit of futuristic power armor with a regenerating shield, but the reworked enemies are going to make it earn its keep; enemy fire is much denser and faster-moving than anything you’ve seen in Doom before.
The weapons are chunky, loud and satisfying to use, and there’s some additional resource management in portable medipacks and shield boosters. The real star of the show is overcharging the suit by holding down either the melee alt-fire or grenade buttons. With each beep from your HUD, more of your stamina bar is poured into the upcoming attack. Fully overcharge it, and your entire shield bar is added to the mixture, and the ensuing punch or throw becomes near-cataclysmic in its power. Flattening an entire room full of enemies with your atom-splitting fist of doom will never, ever get old.
While the mod already replaces most of the enemies with newer, more aggressive variants to compensate for your super-suited self, a fan of Project MSX has created the Extra Badass Monster Pack, which adds another ten monster types (most of them being rare variants) to the mix, making it an even more varied experience. As an aside, the level-pack in the original MSX trailer is UAC Ultra, which very narrowly missed our shortlist on the previous page.
On the subject of the last page, remember Epic 2? Well, what better bunch of villains to populate the weird, occult and supernatural realms of ancient Egypt with than the Nazis? Starting out ostensibly as a Wolfenstein mod for Doom, this enemy pack was designed specifically with that map-pack in mind, hence the Afrika Korps uniforms on the rank and file goose-steppers you’re about to mow down. It’s compatible with just about every level out there, of course.
One interesting tweak the game makes to classic Doom gameplay is how bullets work. Rather than being hitscan (instantly calculated) entities, they’re solid projectiles with visible tracers. The upshot of this is that if you move perpendicular to your attackers fast enough, you can dodge almost every shot thrown your way. Pulling off a dive to cover with twenty SS troopers unloading in your direction makes you feel like Indiana Jones by way of Neo. Whoa.
One of the most interestingly intricate Doom gameplay mods to date, Psychic is heavily inspired by Devil May Cry and its shop/upgrade system. Wielding both guns (with infinite ammo) and psychic spells (drawing on a recharging energy reserve), every enemy you kill drops bouncing tokens worth varying amounts depending on the monster killed and the method used. At any point, you can bring up a shop interface to buy new guns or powers, upgrade existing gear or give yourself a temporary buff for a tough battle.
While the fragile balance of the game is at risk of falling apart during longer campaigns – you can get exceptionally powerful if you’ve waded through enough demons – it’s an interesting and creative power-trip. There’s just something about being able to un-make entire hordes of enemies with just the power of your mind that feels so deliciously corrupting. Plus, the akimbo pistols and shotgun (both lifted directly from Devil May Cry) are immensely fun to use and never run out of juice.
Not entirely a Doom mod, so much as a grand collision between it and all its cousins. Samsara is compatible with most Doom-engine games, and allows you to play as one of eight different characters. While most of the cast are from Doom-engine games,they’re also joined by the likes of Duke Nukem, the Quake marine and the Security officer from Bungie’s classic Marathon series. Similar in concept to Aeons of death, but a lot more restrained and balanced, this is a great way to experience old levels from a different-yet-familiar perspective.
It’s not just all singleplayer fun and games, either. Samsara is designed with both cooperative and competitive multiplayer in mind, as you can see in the Zandronum footage above. Due to the way the game handles number-coded weapon and ammo drops, it means that any character is compatible with any map, and competition for valuable higher-tier weapons is fierce. There are several dozen online servers running Samara at this moment, too. Oh, and a fun aside: Chex Quest gets a whole lot darker when you’re not harmlessly teleporting your enemies back home.